A satellite of the much-lauded festival, founded in Paris in 2002, comes to the UK for the first time this year to celebrate contemporary writing from the Americas
Festival America launches in London this September, welcoming audiences to a 4-day programme of events celebrating the finest contemporary writing from the Americas. Founded in Paris in 2002, the much-lauded biennial festival comes to the UK for the first time this year, having already gained a huge following in cities across France, Switzerland and Belgium. The focus country of this year’s festival will be Canada and, in its inaugural year, it will showcase some of the country’s most celebrated writers and debut novelists including Patrick DeWitt, Andrée Michaud, Heather O’Neill, Michael Redhill and Guy Vanderhaeghe. They will speak alongside a selection of writers from North America including Sarah Churchwell, Nathan Hill, Ivy Pochoda, Michael Farris Smith and Brad Watson.
The London edition will follow the festival in Paris which is set to welcome more than 70 writers to Vincennes this year. Many authors will come to the UK via the French capital and will be hosted in London with support from a wide range of partners including British Council, Commonwealth Writers, CALQ, the Cundill History Prize, Granta magazine, High Commission of Canada in the UK, Institut Français, No Exit Press, (the) Québec Government Office in London, Vancouver Writers’ Festival and Waterstones Trafalgar Square. Running from 24th – 27th September, it will be an opportunity to hear from an exceptionally rich range of voices as they tackle everything from humour and high society to dystopian narratives and contemporary politics.
Commenting on the upcoming launch, Susie Nicklin, Director of Festival America in London and CEO of the MILD Group, said:
“As Britain prepares for Brexit and the world appears to be retreating from its hard-won 20th century compact, our relationships with Europe and the Americas remain crucial for the global ecosystem of literature. 2018, therefore, is the ideal moment for London to provide a satellite for Festival America. We are delighted to host such a diverse selection of participants with the support of our UK, US, Canadian and French partners. We look forward to a magical few days around Trafalgar Square.”
Amongst this year’s programme celebrating Canadian literature, audiences can join three of the country’s leading prize-winning authors Heather O’Neill, Michael Redhill and Guy Venderhaeghe, who will discuss and read from their work. Man Booker shortlisted Patrick DeWitt will also be in conversation with London-based author Ben Markovits to chat about families and their dazzling transatlantic novels. Canadian expat and Virago co-founder Lennie Goodings will chair an event tackling ‘Myths, moods and melodies’ with Christian Guay-Poliquin (The Weight of Snow), Emma Hooper (Our Homesick Songs) and Nancy Lee (Dead Girls and The Age).
The important role historians play in understanding our present will be put centre stage when the international Cundill History Prize announces its 2018 shortlist, featuring world-leading historians including Peter Frankopan (The Silk Roads). Run by Montreal’s McGill University, the US $75,000 prize – the richest purse for non-fiction in English – rewards historical scholarship that is focussed on global issues and contributes to a broader, deeper understanding of history with well-researched, well-written books.
Set against a volatile geopolitical backdrop, the festival welcomes writers offering challenging and dystopian narratives. Author and literary critic Erica Wagner will host an in-conversation on ‘North America Today’ tackling everything from Black Lives Matter to terrorism with investigative journalist and sci-fi writer Omar El-Akkad, The Nix author Nathan Hill and debut novelist Brit Bennett. Cherie Dimaline will join a panel of Canada’s leading female writers to discuss The Marrow Thieves, a fiction in which First Nations people have their bone marrow harvested to heal the white races; and Jennie Melamed will join a conversation about speculative fiction to discuss her dystopian novel about female empowerment, Gather the Daughters.
On the theme of gender, Brad Watson will be in discussion with Sarah Churchwell about Miss Jane - an exceptionally moving, Wellcome Prize-shortlisted story about a girl born without sex characteristics at the beginning of the 20th Century and based on the true story of his great aunt. Festival-goers can also join Jonathan Ames (creator of Blunt Talk and Bored to Death, author You Were Never Really Here) and Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (Swan Song) for an evening of high society and low gossip.
For more information and tickets to this year’s festival visit: festivalamerica.co.uk